"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] The First Open Door Note

[Date] December 20, 1899
[Source] Modern International Relations: Basic Documents, Volume 1, pp. 101-103.
[Full text]

"This" (the United States) Government. animated with a sincere desire to insure to the commerce and industry of the United States and of all other nations perfect equality of treatment within the limits of the Chinese Empire for their trade and navigation. especially within the so-called 'spheres of influence or interest' claimed by certain European Powers in China. has deemed the present an opportune moment to make representations in this direction to Germany, Great Britain and Russia.

To attain the object it has in view and to remove possible causes of international irritation and reestablish confidence so essential to commerce, it has seemd to this Government highly desirable that the various Powers claiming 'spheres of interest or influence’ in China should give formal assurances that : -

1st. They will in no way interfere with any treaty port or any vested interest within any so-called 'sphere of interest' or leased territory they may have in China.

2nd. The Chinese treaty tariff of the time being shall apply to all merchandise landed or shipped to all such ports as are within said ‘sphere of interest (unless they be free ports)’, no matter to what nationality it may belong, and that duties so leviable shall be collected by the Chinese Government.

3rd. They will levy no higher harbor dues on vessels of another nationality frequenting any port in such 'sphere' than shall be levied on vessels of their own nationality, and no higher railroad charges over lines built, controlled or operated within its 'sphere' on merchandise belonging to citizens or subjects of other nationalities transported through such 'sphere' than shall be levied on similar merchandise belonging to their own nationals transported over equal distances.

The policy pursued by His Imperial German Majesty in declaring Tsing-tao (Kiaochao) a free port and in aiding the Chinese Government in establishing there a custom house. and the Ukase of His Imperia l Russian Majesty of August 11th last in erecting a free port at Dalny (Ta-lien-wan) are thought to be proof that these Powers are not disposed to view unfavorably the proposition to recognize that they contemplate nothing which will interfere in any way with the enjoyment by the commerce of all nations of the rights and privileges guaranteed to them by existing treaties by China.

Repeated assurances from the British Government of its fixed policy to maintain throughout China freedom of trade for the whole world, insure, it is believed, the ready assent of that Power to our proposals. It is no less confidently believed that the commercial interests of Japan would be greatly served by the above mentioned declarations. which harmonize with the assurance conveyed to this Government at various times by His Imperial Japanese Majesty's Diplomatic Represntative at this capital.

[The Note was submitted to the Governments of Germany, Great Britain , France, Italy, Russia as well as Japan. ]